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Thursday, July 28, 2005


And so………Becky’s ordeal began on June 20th and after her two surgeries and recuperation she was finally able to go back to work August 7th. She couldn’t go sooner because the heavy belt of the uniform was tight over her incision and she couldn‘t stand the pressure. I’m sure she needed the time off to fully recover, anyway. Of course the first couple of weeks were pretty hard on her, back to the grind and getting accustomed to the routine again was grueling. In some ways, she still isn’t physically fit in the way she was before that whole affair. I continued to have her come for supper every evening so she could go home and relax afterwards.

Bear was excited because a friend from church had tickets to a Royal’s game in KC and asked Bear to go with him. It was a wonderful treat for Bear who played the game a lot in the Service and around other places. They had a great “guys” day and enjoyed the outing. It was ironic that a few days later, Mickey Mantle died of cancer. One of baseball’s biggest hero’s to most of us. It never mattered that he was “flawed,” reported to be a heavy drinker…..he gave the game all he had and we were sorry there wasn’t more happiness in his private life. So often, people who live in the public eye suffer real tragedy in their private world. It’s sad.

Becky and I worked together a lot this month because so many were off for vacations or medical appointments. Normally we worked on separate crews but this particular time we were together almost the whole month. It was nice. I had her eat with us until she felt good enough to want to cook again. The time comes when you just want to do your own thing again…..I well understand that. It was time.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


The next day was the 4th of July. George, Jennifer and her husband, Jonathan and his girl-friend, Becky and the two of us managed to bed down between Becky’s house and ours. Everyone wanted a traditional cook-out the next day to celebrate Becky’s home-coming and the Fourth. I went to bed plotting my plan of attack on food preparation. When the family comes home, they have individual favorites and each wants theirs on the menu. Even though I was in my own bed I didn’t sleep well because I kept going over and over what I needed to do. I wanted to have a wonderful day with all of the add-ons.

I was up at the crack of dawn. The cats slept all over us during the night and I was stiff and sore by morning. It was almost a pleasure to get out of bed. After making breakfast for everyone I began on the meal we would have in the evening. Apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate chip cookies, angle food cake w/pink frosting, potato salad, baked beans, burgers and all the chips and dips. If you noticed there was more desserts than anything……you have a glimpse into family preference.

George did the burgers on the grille and we carried all the food to the deck. Surprisingly enough for July 4th it was pleasant with a nice soft breeze. We enjoyed the food and visiting until Becky tired. I looked around at the family gathered there and thought how good God is, knowing how tragically her ordeal could have ended. We had much to be thankful for.

The next day George, Jennifer and Jamie left to return home. Becky was tired from all the company and extra exertion so she stayed with us to rest. After supper she wanted to go home and we walked with her and stayed a little while to do a few things so she could rest. I had to return to work the next day and Becky continued to have her meals with us but stayed home through the day and slept at home. She was beginning to get a better color and getting stronger each day.

People continued to call and we had a lot of visitors back and forth. The temperatures stayed in the 90’s the rest of the month and it was miserable in some of the offices where we worked with no AC…..coming home was a great relief from the heat of the day. I made two batches of lime pickles during the month….my supervisor had an abundance of cucumbers and I was happy to oblige his need to get rid of them. Later I made some zucchini relish which turned out great. I have always loved to “can” and working didn’t allow me to do much of it but when friends had more fruit or vegetables than they could use I rose to the occasion.

Bear took Becky to Springfield several times through the month for checkups. Her doctor wouldn’t release her for CDL duty until her lungs were entirely clear. Don Rockenbach called on his way through town later in the month and Bear and I went out to the truck stop to visit with him a while. He had his own 18-wheeler and was an independent driver…….he called once in a while if he was going through and we would meet him for coffee. I was his contact for the High-School Class activities and I usually had local news from other classmates. Bear was always fascinated with trucking and would have enjoyed going cross country…..Rocky was in awe of Bear’s experience in the Military and so the stories flowed back and forth equally. I made a good listener.

The month ended with typical heat and need for rain. July and August are not our best months in the Ozarks and is the reason many people leave for more suitable climes. Only the most determined stay in spite of the hardships because when those months pass we know life will again become good. My roots are deep in the red clay soil and rocks…….I cannot leave a love so great.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

HEAT WAVE........ 

Sorry folks. No blog today. I got overheated again and I’m on strict orders to stay inside and rest. I know it’s serious when I come in and barf up my socks, accompanied by the shallow breathing, dizziness, weakness and feeling like I’m going to faint. Rocky and Becky are away at work and I just can’t worry them further with my insistence to water and pull weeds in my flower garden. Today was the day I realized how serious overheating can be. I was only out a half-hour so the time it takes for me to get to the danger zone has diminished to the point that it’s no longer feasible.

I’m resting with my feet up, drinking salt water and doing all the good things I should. I hope your day is better wherever you are and that you are smarter than I am about this awful heat spell. I’ll hopefully see you back here tomorrow.

I’m thinking of moving to the Northlands.

Until later, then……..
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 25, 2005


When someone is gravely ill there needs to be one member of the family whose job is just to field all of the phone calls and visitors. Once people knew of Becky’s plight and that she had pulled through OK we had a flood of both. She would not have been able to answer the phone or to visit with her company. I opted to stay with her and was pleased the hospital was supportive of my doing so. Most hospitals appreciate having a family member with the critical patients to give them a leg up on caring for others.

On Sunday they moved her out of ICU up to the 9th floor of the hospital. It was like a penthouse suite. The view from there allowed visage of the whole city and I was mesmerized watching the traffic flow on the streets below. It entertained me between her naps, the calls and the medical folks coming and going. Becky was not able to enjoy it for several days…..her trips to the bathroom were agonizingly slow and painful….she didn’t opt for more than just getting back to bed. She had been through two surgeries within 6-days. She was wiped out.

They were closly monitoring for infection...the biggest hurdle she faced now. Becky was given a morphine drip to aid her comfort zone and in the beginning, she slept a lot. The calls were constant and I reassured everyone to the fact that the worst was over. They called for updates several times a day and those who lived close enough made efforts to come in person. Our Driver’s Examiner people came at different times and we knew it was a sacrifice driving up after work or taking a day’s vacation to come. We appreciated them so much…..our other family.

I was outfitted with a recliner by her bed and the nurses brought extra towels, shampoo, soap, toothpaste and a brush……..they appreciated me being there and made sure I had the essentials needed to stay with Becky. Jonathan came to see his mom and stayed over night in the waiting room with blankets and remained most of the time she was there……Bear came during the day, and stayed with Jonathan one night. They neither one slept much. Hospitals aren’t conducive to much sleep for anyone. Bear made the long drive home at night and came back the next day each time.

The days crept by, each with new expectations. First to go on liquids for nourishment, then solid food…..getting up and sitting in a chair, then walking, walking further, etc; The doctor’s that took charge of Becky were excellent. Dr. Cordonnier, Dr. Buckner and Dr. Powell were exceptional and used aggressive measures to get Becky up and going again. Days went by and Saturday rolled around again. Becky could now be up in a wheelchair so I took her over to the side of the floor where we could see the fireworks that Springfield displayed every year. It was a good vantage point and we did enjoy them…….but Becky tired before they were over so we went back to her room.

We were hoping to be released soon but Dr. Kim, the lung specialist, had been concerned about fluid building up in her right lung. He drained the lung and sent a specimen to the lab for testing. He later came by to tell us it wasn’t anything serious and everything was OK. He was releasing her to go home whenever Dr. Buckner thought prudent. However, Dr. Buckner was held up in surgery and didn’t get to our room until 6:15 that evening to tell us we could go. The nurses hurried to unplug Becky from things no longer needed and get her things together so we could leave. It didn’t take any of us long to get her to the car and travel the 80-miles home. We arrived at 10:30, a pretty tired bunch but family was waiting and the lights were on…….no sight is more beautiful than the lights of home after an imposed absence.

And so, 6-days after her first surgery and then a second surgery and 10-days of recuperation together………we came home.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I followed along behind the gurney at breakneck speed through the maze of corridors and rooms. We attracted looks from everyone we met in the halls…… they could tell it was a serious case just by the haste. I’m sure I was frantic by now. Dr. Buckner had ordered a room ahead for her and she was placed in bed with a nurse waiting to take her vitals and ask a few questions. When she finished with that she said she needed to look at the area Becky described and lifted the sheet. She showed no emotion and put the sheet back…..saying she would be back in a little bit….and for Becky to rest.

In minutes, Dr. Buckner arrived from the Emergency Room where he was one of the doctor’s on a Trauma Team. The nurse followed him into the room and their faces looked as blank as they could manage but I knew he came too quick for something to be OK……..one look and he touched her arm and told her he was going to get her some help. He wanted X-rays and rattled off a bunch of tests to the nurse that he wanted and told Becky she would be going down to the ER area for a quicker evaluation. Within 10-minutes they whisked her out and I stayed in the room.

Bear had driven home to get me some things to stay with Becky, to call John and take the cats to the clinic for boarding. He did all that and arrived early afternoon. Dr. Buckner was young, handsome…….and aggressive with his patients needs. He seemed to know exactly what to do and had it all in control. There was not the waiting and indecision we had encountered at the West Plains Hospital where they kept taking tests and writing notes. We had been there six hours to no avail. Time wasted that Becky could have been getting help in Cox Hospital. I trusted him.

A short time later he came through the door with test results and was on high alert. He said there was a large mass of fluid in her abdomen and he wasn’t sure what it was. It could be necrotizing fasciitis …………..when he said that, Becky, Bear and I dropped our jaws. That had been the infection that almost took Bear’s life in 1980 when he was spared by the tiniest margin………he was fortunate to have only lost a leg. It is a fast moving infection that travels the plains between the muscles in the body and the flesh dies faster than the anti-biotics can get to it. Saving a patient depends on the severity and the speed of the infection……we had lost a lot of time with Becky. This only happens in about one out of a million patients and it’s a battle hard fought to win. How could it happen twice to the three of us?

Dr. Buckner was surprised at our reaction and asked if we knew what it was……..we told him about Bear and he said he didn’t want to cause Becky any undue worry but he thought we should know going in to surgery just what we could be up against. He told her she would have to have surgery ASAP and a nurse would get her ready. Becky asked if she was going to come out of the surgery and he told her………. “I can promise to get you past surgery………after that, it’s out of my hands but we’ll do all we can. We have to see what’s causing this, first.” Becky immediately asked me to call our pastor and some of our friends and family for prayer. She put herself in God’s hands and they took her to the surgical floor. The time was about 5:00pm. We had now been over 14-hours trying to get help for her. We were about to accomplish that.

Bear and I went to the Surgical Waiting Room and tried to collect out thoughts. I was more or less in a state of shock and Bear was trying to console me but not having much luck. How could this happen again? I couldn’t get it out of my head that we might be going home without Becky. It just couldn’t be. I called her two children, Jennifer and Jonathan, and John. He told me he would call their dad and George. After that there was nothing to do but wait.

Just as they were ready to operate on Becky, an emergency call came in that a bad car wreck happened north of town and the trauma team had to prepare for several people who were badly injured. They were being flown to the hospital in the helicopter. Becky’s surgery was delayed 2-hours. Dr. Cordonnier came in about the time they were finished with the injured and offered to assist Dr. Buckner on Becky’s case since he had performed the gall-bladder surgery. So they both took her to OR and Bear and I went back to the waiting room. It was a miserable time. I was worn out and sleepy. The stress was getting to me and I couldn’t get comfortable. The clock seemed to drag out the minutes and we were alone and in the dark in the waiting room which was closed down for the night.

Finally, we heard footsteps coming down the hall and we sat up and saw it was Dr. Buckner and Dr. Cordonnier….they were talking energetically and seemed to be in great spirits. They came quickly and told us that the best possible thing happened that could………the bile duct had come loose from the stitches and had been pumping bile into her abdomen since her surgery. This was six days ago. They said they removed 3-liters of fluid from her abdomen and there was no infection found anywhere…… she would be awake in a little bit and we could go in and see her. They were jubilant and very happy to be able to bring us good news.

We were shown where she lay on a gurney and walked up to her…..I asked if she was awake and she said she was……..I said, “Becky! You’re going to live!! It was a bile leak in your abdomen. You’re going to live, honey!” She managed a smile and put her hand up…….I kissed her and we left. She was going to ICU and we were shown where the ICU waiting room was and given blankets. The room was full of anxious families or friends of patients. We all had one thing in common that night. We wanted to be close to our loved ones for better or worse. We were there for them and the discomfort of the recliners didn’t matter at all.

Becky was going to live and everything was going to be all right. Sleep came easily……..

Until the next time,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 22, 2005


June this year was exceptionally wet. We had one bad storm coming home from Van Buren that was spectacular. Along with racing clouds, dangerous lightening, torrential rain and hail we drove along, hoping to run out of it. That area is hilly, steep and with no shoulders to get off the road. There is heavy truck traffic from East to West across the bottom of our State and it is perilous even in good weather. We have seen our share of fatal accidents on that stretch of road. I kept hoping that everything was safe at home…… and we ran out of the rain a few miles away. With all of the electrical stuff on the Patrol car we were glad when the lightening was behind us.

Becky had a storm of her own this month. She complained of being very sick, was nauseous and in terrible pain. She had several surgeries behind her already and we couldn’t figure what could be wrong with her. It got so intrusive that she finally had to see a doctor and Bear drove her to Springfield. They took some tests and said they would have some answers by Friday, that week. When Friday rolled around she had her answer. Gallbladder. It was terribly infected and she was to have surgery on the 20th. Just knowing what it was made her feel a little better……sort of “the devil you know” kind of thing.

A few days later, Bear took her to Springfield for pre-op and pre-admittance to get all that out of the way. The 19th of June was our 25th wedding anniversary but it was a Tuesday and the day before Becky’s surgery so we didn’t have any special celebration. The next morning we got her to the hospital by 10:00 a.m. and they prepped her for surgery which was set for 12:00 noon. We walked along with her as far as we could and then went for coffee and a sandwich at the nice hospital Deli Bar. We relaxed a little and then waited in the surgical waiting room. Around 2:30pm our name was called…..Becky was out of surgery and in ICU. She was reported to be doing well. Dr. Cordonnier came out and told us her gallbladder was full of stones and he removed the whole gallbladder by laparoscopy. We waited in her room and she joined us shortly. Dr. Cordonnier said we could take her home the next day. We stayed until she was comfortable and then left for home.

Early the next day we headed back to get her. When we entered her room we were taken back by her appearance. She obviously was having difficulties. She told us an aide got her up in the early morning hours to walk and she fainted, falling to her knees. She bled all over and her stomach hurt where the incision was. They decided to keep her over night, she was weak and sore………she had a yellowish color. We left at the end of the day again, expecting to take her home the next day.

She was released and ready when we came for her the next morning. She was in a wheel-chair and looked very weak. We were concerned but I’d never had surgery and I thought it was just a natural thing……at least I tried to think it was normal. Bear drove carefully so as not to jar her but by the time we rode the 80+ miles, she was miserable. I put her to bed and tried to make her comfortable. She woke up the next day feeling worse. She had brown spots all over her right abdomen and her right side was swelling. She had difficulty getting up or down and I became very worried that something wasn’t right. We did everything we could think of and by evening we knew something was terribly wrong. We tried calling her doctor but kept getting a message that the number was not correct. In desperation we called the emergency room at Cox Hospital and talked with a Dr. Buckner. He asked a lot of questions and told us to flush her with water and Milk of Magnesia …….Bear rushed to the store and came back…….Becky began drinking. We stayed with her until late and then went to bed.

For some reason I woke up around 2:30am and thought I’d better check on her. I tiptoed to her room and I could see her in the moonlight coming in the window. She was awake………she turned her head and told me she hurt real bad. I pulled the covers back and raised her nightgown……..to my horror the brown spots had all come together and she was dark brown from under her right breast to her groin which went around to half of her back. John had quite a bit of medical knowledge so I called him and got him up…….I told him the whole story and he said this wasn’t something that could wait until morning, I’d better call 911. Which is what I did. The ambulance arrived by 3:30am and they took her to our closest hospital with Bear and I following in the car. Once there, they took X-rays and poked around on her stomach until she cried. She tried to fend off the hand of the so-called doctor but he put her hand down and kept poking into her side. Then back for more X-rays.

Poor Becky was in terrible pain and beside herself. The doctor came back and said since she had the surgery in Springfield, he was sending her there for treatment. They couldn’t find the problem. He was the sorriest doctor I ever saw in my life. It took them until 9:30 that morning to get paperwork and the ambulance to take Becky. I rode with her. She had two shots of morphine and they told her she wouldn’t feel a thing……..well, she felt every bump and by now the swelling in her abdomen looked like she was 6-months pregnant. We finally reached the hospital after what seemed to be an eternity. Some kind aides met us with a gurney and gently put Becky onto it….whisking us down the corridor. Help would be coming..……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Bear loaded the car during the day on Friday the 5th of May and when I came home from work we made ready to close the house down and drive to Shawnee for a long week-end trip. State workers always get Truman’s birthday off so it made an extra day and a perfect opportunity to make a visit to George.

We had to make it possible for a mama wren to get into the garage while we were gone because she made a nest in a flower bucket hanging on one of the walls. We had been concerned that it would give undue panic to her when we closed the doors so we made sure she could get in. We had been watching her efforts for several days and hoped to be here when the babies hatched.

Becky had already taken all of our critters out to the vet for boarding so we were on the road by 5:00pm. We made a quick stop at Clinton to get a sandwich and we were easily at George’s by 9:30pm. The next morning we headed out for our usual rounds…..shopping, of course, and good lunch stops. I like our small town living but I do miss the specialty restaurants. We quit eating at Fast Food places long ago and that is our only option. Evenings were spent visiting old friends or settling down on George’s deck while he grilled burgers.

George has a lawn to die for. He was always interested in yard work and certainly did a lot of it while at home, being the oldest boy. He used the Scott Plan and with the good dirt it didn’t take long to see an improvement in his yard. He made some attractive plantings and investigated each addition before he put them in the ground. The results were picture perfect. The deck provides a wonderful place to relax and take in the beauty while we visit and sniff the aroma coming from the grill. Life is good in his back yard.

We left Monday morning and had a routine drive home. Becky unloaded first and then it was our turn. Becky and Bear went after the pets and I got ready to go back to work the next day. The following Wednesday I was working in the Houston Court House, a couple of towns away……when we were informed someone in the Court House received a bomb threat over the phone. The building was evacuated and we were all standing a good distance away while the building was searched. There is always the possibility that it’s a hoax but in view of the Oklahoma bombing the law enforcement folks were taking no chances. It was an uneasy and nervous wait which turned up nothing.

I need to take a moment to editorialize about law enforcement people. I have worked around them a great deal and I have the highest regard for them. While some people complain about being stopped for a traffic ticket or a tail light that doesn’t work……even some rough handling after a half-hour fast chase which endangered the lives of many, I commend them for taking their lives in hand to protect the general public. I have seen private moments of them helping folks who don’t deserve a kindness and overheard stories of them nearly being killed in the line of duty. All this for poor pay, poor retirements and a lot of times…..no respect. Yet in times of peril like the Oklahoma bombing or 9-11 they are the first responders who most of the time don’t live to tell it. These guys are dads, husbands, sons…….yes, mothers, wives and daughters. They work the dregs of the earth and at quitting time go home to try and forget the ingratitude and reasons why they should find another vocation. They are my hero‘s……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Well, it’s been quite a week. Rocky was getting ready for his big event and then the day came and we had a lot of excitement participating in our first PowerLifting Meet. He was in two events and the rest of us were on the edge of our chairs or taking pictures. It’s like watching a turtle race to see these big guys approaching their favorite weight to lift…..I found out it’s highly individual as they dust their hands, straighten their suits, stare at the weight they are about to tackle, psych themselves up, wiggle their fingers and then approach the bench or the bar. It can be intoxicating to watch the ones who compete on a regular basis. My Rocky just walked up, got a good grip and lifted. He hasn’t learned the intricacies of showmanship yet and knowing him like I do, it won’t be happening.

It took me a while to edit all of the pictures I took and send them to relatives and pals. John was kind enough to paste a couple of the pertinent ones to my post. Since then I have been on the go to medical and dental appointments, sometimes with Rocky, sometimes with Becky. Today is my first day at home and you can guess I have a lot of catching up to do.

I am so very grateful that our eating right and exercising has paid off. All of our doctors were happy with us and our stats are better than they have ever been. I am sad in one regard….my lifelong love affair with ice-cream is about over. It has been a reluctant lover to leave but I have been on fresh fruit and vegetables long enough that it no longer has the hold on me it once did. Yesterday when we were finished with our appointments I decided to have ice-cream to celebrate. It had been about two weeks since I’d eaten any. I chose a hot-fudge sundae…..usually the ultimate in treats for me. To my disappointment I had to force it down. Bells and whistles went off and my inner person said, “Why ARE you doing this? It doesn’t taste good, it isn’t healthy and you wasted your money.” Since we were in the car I had to finish it or throw it out……I told Rocky (who only had a single dip cone)….. “that’s probably the last one of these I’m having in a long, long time.”

I hate falling out of love but I’m afraid I have developed a new love that my doctors will approve of….sensible eating. I am no longer a slave to something I needed to put out of my life and that’s a ‘good’ thing. Rocky’s nutrition as a diabetic and power lifter is in my hands so since I’m an informed cook I do have a plan……

Thank you for all the congrats and good wishes. ‘Yo Rocky’ is getting used to his titles and trying to understand all the fuss. Heck……..he used to throw full cans of milk (one in each hand) into his truck on the old milk route and hauled furniture cross country, all in his younger life. He’s always worked hard and done a lot of heavy lifting……..not in the gym. He is learning a different “lift” these days and having a lot of fun with the young guys who treat him like their mascot. Life can be good, even in the golden years………….get out there and look for your gold.

Until tomorrow when we return to Esther’s journey,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Saturday, July 16th, 2005 was a world class day for our Rocky. At the urging of the gym owner, Craig, and the Powerlifting Coach, Rodney, Rocky reluctantly signed up for the APA Meet held at our gym. Rocky is a gentle giant who prefers being in the fringes and not on stage. It took some fast talking from them plus Becky, plus me but we finally pushed him into it.

To his amazement he set the record for District and State in Bench Press and District, State, American and World in Dead Lift in his age group. He has reached the grand old age of 73 and is the darling of the gym where we go to work out each week.

Bench Press


Rocky is a survivor. He has had two heart attacks, prostate cancer, a brain tumor removed surgically; he has diabetes, high blood pressure and is attempting to survive living with his third wife……we have known each other since courting days in high-school back when “Heck” was a pup.

We were joined by his son, Michael and Rocky’s daughter Holly and her husband, Eddie, and Becky. The Meet started at 10:00am and ended at 4:30pm. Since it was the first experience for all of us, we learned a lot and saw a lot of great young people attempt the impossible. Everyone was a winner in my estimation.

I emailed the pictures to John and hope he will be able to tag some of them to this site for you. Becky and I are pretty proud of Rocky and I think we’ll see Miss Becky in the next local meet. After a celebratory meal at Pizza Hut with the family we came home and I now live with a World Class guy. Wonders never cease in my little world of me………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 15, 2005

EARLY MAY....1995 

April’s rain didn’t come until May. The first 5-days were dark and dreary. For a long time I had been urging Bear to write the story of his life. He grew up in a small town in Northeast Nebraska in hard times, left after high school to join the Navy during WW11, got out, went to college a year and then joined the Army. His stories were exciting to me because of the extensive travel and experiences he encountered. He could speak several languages and had an astute memory. His time served in the Military was a source of pride to him and his stories were amazingly categorized by a date and time……place, etc;

He had just retired from the Army when I met him in Kansas City. He came to work one week to the day after I did. He was an excellent Agent for the Department of Agriculture where we worked in the investigative section. His life before that was always interesting to me because I was not part of it. The life he lived as a child growing up in Newman Grove, NE. was foreign to his younger sister and brother, as well. His mother moved to Scott’s Bluff, NE. while he was in the Navy. The two siblings had little knowledge of the small town they came from and even many of the relatives were unknown to them.

Since the early death of his father in a harvesting accident, the death of his mother some years later and the death of his sister, his younger brother was the only immediate family member left, other than himself. Donald, being the “baby” of the family didn’t remember much about early life in Newman Grove that Bear had knowledge of. Bear was 70-years old at this particular time and I told him he needed to sit down with a tape recorder and record all of the events he could remember growing up in Newman Grove. With life being so unpredictable it would be Donald’s last chance to have all of the information Bear had stored up.

On a rainy day early in the month, he spent the day doing just that. When I came home from work he had the finished product and wanted me to hear it. I was fascinated because of course there was a lot I hadn’t known, either. He ran a tape off for Donald and we mailed it to him. Of course, it was a gift like no other. His big brother telling all about the family before he came along and the hard times they had endured. It was also a gift to me because having met his family back in Nebraska, the tape made more of an impression, now knowing the family members. The Rosenbaum and King families were large and wonderful people to know.

There is so much more to tell of Bear’s life. When I am finished writing my life story I intend writing what I know and can remember about the three men who have impacted my life. That will save for another day……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


No Esther story today. Becky and I go to Springfield at 6:30am for our yearly physicals. It’s “girls day out” and we’ll do lunch and shopping before coming home. Hopefully see you back here on Thursday……..have a great Wednesday on me!!

Until then,
Just Esther


After getting comfortably back in our routines, Jonathan’s birthday came up on a Saturday. We had him and Becky over for lunch and gift opening. It was a nice balmy day and things were beginning to “green up” nicely. WalMart had been in the process of building a large Super Center in West Plains and the evolving edifice was impressive. It dwarfed everything around it. They were outgrowing the small-town shopping center they located in originally. The parking lot they paved and prepared for customers was unbelievable in size. We couldn’t imagine they could ever fill it or have enough business to keep the overhead down. That was 10-years ago.

Today you have to drive around for several minutes too hopefully find a parking place close enough for a walk to the building. The store is always packed full of people and the shopping carts are filled to the brim with every customer. In the years since opening, business has built up around them and it’s a regular little city to the South of town. There is a love-hate relationship with WalMart. We fuss about the monopoly and the way it killed the business down on the Square of a nice little town but we end up shopping there because they have everything in one stop. Small business cannot compete with their prices and cannot stock such a massive inventory. It’s simply more convenient and economical to shop there…..and so we join the masses.

A good Christian friend of ours, Dean McPherson, had been receiving treatments for cancer. We were concerned for him and hopeful he could win the battle. John had married Dean and his wife a few years before and they now lived near Springfield. Dean stopped in one day to tell us his condition was terminal and they couldn’t do any more for him. Of course we were stunned and sorry. Dean was a man whose life exemplified Christ and we had many good conversations over the years, sharing the Gospel together. One of his favorite verses was, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 New Standard Version) It is a verse that changes any person who takes it to heart. It became a favorite of both Bear and me and reminded us of Dean every time it was mentioned or read. It was hard saying goodbye that day. We knew we wouldn’t see him again. He was at peace and ready to meet God.

Becky’s birthday came up towards the end of the month and I fixed her favorite meal. She liked her gifts and her 41st year came and went quietly. We had all been doing quite a bit of planting this spring. Bear and I set out a Bradford Pear tree, some Flowering Quince, Cardinal Bush, a pink Dogwood tree and Lilac’s. When I look at them now, it’s hard to believe they were once so small. In the 10-years since planting, they have literally filled our yard up with foliage.

The 19th of April was LJ’s 10th birthday. It became quite momentous when special news breaks told of the Federal Bldg. in Oklahoma City, being blown up. I was working at Houston that day and we had our ears glued to the TV set to hear of the on-going rescue attempts. Many children were killed in a Day Care Center on the second floor and our hearts went out to the victims as well as the rescuers. As the day wore on there were more and more details……12 children lost and 30 people killed….hundreds in hospitals and several hundred unaccounted for. It was reported that a car-bomb caused the explosion.

The following day news began to unravel the mystery. A man was charged with the bombing, stopped 90-minutes later, driving a car with no license plates and for having a concealed weapon in the vehicle. They were finding connections to a Patriot Group who retaliated for the Waco disaster. The following Sunday was a National Day of Prayer for the victims.

It was a sad day for America………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, July 11, 2005


The year is 1995. January had it’s good and bad days. I was off work one or two times because of icy conditions. Bear and I both had colds and watched all of the football play-offs while we recuperated. We were pulling for Nebraska U to win their Bowl Game and went to bed early when they were way behind and looking like a bunch of misfits. Bear woke up at 2:00am with phantom pains in his stump and happened to turn TV on to check the score. He came back to bed and was deliriously happy………with some 4th quarter miracles, Nebraska pulled it off and won the championship game. We were both happy for Coach Osborn who had been to the Bowl Games many times and somehow never got to win one. Sometimes good news even takes care of phantom pains……

In February I had to go to Jefferson City for a week of training at the Highway Patrol Academy. One by one we were assigned for re-training and we always hated it. The dorms for the young troopers in training were not comfortable nor did they offer any amenities of home. There was a TV in a room down the hall and the showers were to be shared by adjoining doors. Someone invariably forgot to unlock your door and so it was always a question as to whether or not you could shower in time for class.

In the week we were there we were exposed to the new changes concerning Motor Vehicle Laws and then went to the building where the Driver’s Licenses were printed. The next day we had Defensive Driving Class and then retraining on testing applicants. Mid-week we hit the road in a van and had to check for errors the driver committed, with drivers alternating. Each night we went to the gym after the evening meal and worked out, then hit the books for the test coming up on Friday.

We froze our tails off on Thursday with testing on the motorcycle course. I was in luck because they called the tests off before I was due up for a turn. This was one time I was in favor of cold weather. A lot of the brass came to class on Friday, introducing themselves and then leaving. We were tested all morning and I felt pretty good about my grade…the nights of study and long hours in class listening to each speaker paid off. We were released at noon and after lunch in the cafeteria, I headed for home.

The end of the month we took some time off and went down to see John, Barb and little John. We had always wanted to be in Louisiana when Mardi-Gras was going on so this was the time. The next morning we went to one of the local parades with the floats and all the bead throwing and such. It was pretty exciting………at first I didn’t try to catch any beads but when they hit me in the head, all of a sudden, I begin grabbing and hollering like all of the other folks I thought were so idiotic. It was a very fun time………

John always had a new and different experience planned on every trip to see them. This time it was a visit to the Global Wild Life Reserve. We were loaded on wagons pulled by a tractor over 600 acres of animals. It was fascinating because when they saw the wagons they came right towards them…..we had been given bagged feed for them and we could pour it right in their mouths. Nothing can compare with seeing zoo animals up close and personal. They were mostly animals you would encounter on the Veldt. The kids who were the guides kept us informed and laughing.

John and Barb threw a Mardi-Gras party for their friends and it was a fun-night. We had been introduced to them previously so it was nice to revisit them again. No one ever came to a party of John and Barbs without having a good time. Later, the next day, John told us the Monet exhibit was on display in New Orleans so we loaded up and went to see that. We were shown a film of his life and paintings……then took the tour. Notable to say the least.

This would be one year we were able to spend John’s birthday with him. We ate out with more friends and ended up at home where we had the cake and gifts. A friend of John’s was running for Council At Large and our last night we attended a campaign party for him. There was a nice crowd and Marty won the election we were later informed.

It had been a trip to remember and we arrived safely home the next day. Becky had our kitties here and food fixed………we spent the evening telling her about all the fun. Going back to work after time off is always hard….especially when you’ve been to New Orleans………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 08, 2005


November was quiet until mid-month when Pete had another heart attack. We had been so concerned for him because he couldn’t seem to get past having another after he came home from the hospital each time. At work we tried to keep our fears down but every station we went to brought concerned questions and discussions. Every body liked Pete…..he never knew a stranger and could go anywhere and bump into someone he knew. It didn’t matter how far away…….he’d always find a friend.

I made sweatshirts for Christmas and that took a lot of my time at home. We had friends in for Thanksgiving so with Becky it made a table setting for six. The day was pleasant and the weather was favorable. The 30th was Bear’s 70th birthday…it just didn’t seem possible. I took the day off and we went to Springfield for a nice dinner and some shopping. It was quiet but nice. Our weather was exceptionally nice….staying in the 60’s most of the time, clear into December.

For once I got our Christmas packages mailed to everyone early. Bear took all of the packages to the Post Office for me and then we started on our many cards to send. It was always the biggest job of the holiday because I continued to write personal letters or notes in all of them. Bear was good to help in that and was a good writer.

The weather turned cold by the 11th of December with temps down to 18* and a sharp wind blowing. I made candy for several days when I wasn’t working and mailed it to the family. It was always the fun part of Christmas for me. I enjoyed making cookies, candy and baked goods so when people came to visit I had something to send home with them. It was a pleasure mom passed on to me. She was forever baking and taking it to someone……

There were Christmas parties at most of our stations during Christmas week. I made a Candy Cane coffee cake, spinach dip and party meat-balls for the one at Van Buren and we enjoyed goodies all day. The guys brought crackers and chips so we snacked all day. I still miss those days. We had a lot of fun working together and we interacted with the other folks in all of the Court Houses and offices that we worked out of. It was just plain fun to work in those days.

Joe and I worked the Friday before Christmas at Eminence. Pete and Corky were both off so Joe and I were left to fill the gap. The Court House closed at noon so we got to come home early. I was glad because George came from Shawnee to celebrate his birthday with us. I made his favorite cherry cobbler and pizza…..he and Bear always fought over the cobbler….it was a favorite of both. George opened his gifts after supper and we had a nice evening just visiting around the tree.

Becky came for breakfast the next morning and we made plans for our Christmas eve dinner and gift opening. Jonathan came for dinner and gifts and we talked with all of our loved ones who couldn’t be with us on the phone. The gifts were appreciated by all and it was a good day. Christmas day came and went, I took a few days off while George was here and went back to work the following Wednesday. George went home with cookies and candy and we settled down to putting the decorations away and nursing colds that we got after Christmas. We didn’t know it then but it would be the last “normal” Christmas we would have…..

Until the next time,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, July 07, 2005


TV news mentioned the death of Harriet Hilliard Nelson on the 4th of October. Long ago a school friend of mine and I went to the Orpheum theatre in Omaha to get the autographs of her and Ozzie. At that time they were traveling around the country to theatres for matinee performances with their band. We stood at the stage door in the alley until a bus pulled up with the band and a little later, a taxi arrived with Ozzie and Harriet. I was a star-struck 6th grader and stood in awe as they signed my book. After their boys were born they looked for steady work in California so they could give them a decent raising. They had the Ozzie and Harriet show on TV for quite a few years…..until Ricky began his own career. Ozzie and Ricky both died before Harriet. Ricky was trying to make a come-back after a failed marriage and a failed career. Drugs ruin people’s lives in many ways. David, the older brother, and Harriet were left to mourn them both.

Gail flew in on a Saturday (the 8th) and we picked her up at the airport. She flew in to take flowers to Louis’ grave on his birthday (the 9th). A friend of ours, Dean McPhearson, dropped by to tell us he had prostate cancer and was waiting for the results of his surgery. John had performed the wedding ceremony for Dean and his wife and they stayed in touch after moving to Springfield.

Gail stayed with us until the following Wednesday when we got up at 3:30am to get her to the Springfield airport in time for the plane to Seattle……leaving at 7:00am. I stayed home to get ready for work while Bear drove her to the airport. Tuffy was scratching Morris to pieces with his little sharp claws so we took him to the Vet for claw removal and all of his shots. He was a lump of fur in the wing-back chair for several days…..too sore to move. Back then, the Vet removed all of the claws but now only the front ones are removed. Too many house cats escaped outside and didn’t come back because they couldn’t protect themselves…. they became easy prey for predators. In a few days Tuffy was back to his old self and his antics continued but with less blood-letting from Morris.

Martha Raye died October 19th….she was 80-years old and had been in poor health. She was a comedian who always made comedy funnier with her presence. She could twist her mouth in more shapes than a kaleidoscope. Burt Lancaster died on the 21st….he was 78. He had played many parts and was always one to do his own athletic scenes. He died of a heart attack after suffering a stroke and being out of the public eye for some time. His good friend, Kirk Douglas, gave a heartfelt eulogy.

I began sewing on Christmas sweatshirts and they turned out very nice. I gave the first one to Becky to wear for the holidays. It was mild and warm enough that Bear and I planted five clematis along the fence and at the clothesline poles. I had ordered a beautiful Chinese peony at the same time. It was hard digging but we knew the mild weather wouldn’t last so we stuck with it until all were in the ground. Today they are still here, blooming beautifully, where we placed them at the time.

Bear had been working on the leaves on and off….it was always a big job with our large lot and many oak trees. We got a hard, killing frost on the 22nd but some of my plants survived. Bear cleaned the flower beds out nice and worked on more leaves. I took a day off work to cook and clean as Buster and Phyllis were coming for a short visit. They came on the 28th and I had supper waiting when they arrived. The next day, Nebraska U. played Colorado U. so we stayed home to watch that. Colorado fell to our home State so we were satisfied with the results.

Buster wanted to take us to lunch in Mountain Home the next day so that’s what we did. As we reached the old haunts of bygone days, Bidwell Point and Redbank, we laughed about the good old days and the fun times we had there when mom and dad were alive. We had routine dental appointments the next day and Buster and Phyllis were leaving for home. We followed one another to Springfield where our roads divided and we waved goodbye. It was the last day of October and the day we put mom to rest three years ago…….“time waits for no man,” as dad used to say. It doesn’t wait for women either. November would make her debut the next day……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


July came in hot and dry, just like always. The O.J. Simpson trial was dragging on and was the topic of conversation everywhere. No one I knew thought he was innocent……and the theatrics continued with every news cast. The month passed on with heat and short crews due to vacations. I had an infection in my bronchial tubes which lasted for some time. Lost my voice and felt miserable in general but continued working and keeping up at home. I kept dragging around and finally got rid of “whatever.”

Pete had a heart attack the 22nd of August. He had been playing golf with his son when it happened and was driven to the hospital, then loaded on the helicopter for St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. He underwent an angiogram and angioplasty. He had a clot removed and they discovered scar tissue from the open-heart surgery he had 2-years ago. We spread out the crews to make up the slack with Pete gone for a while.

We went to visit George over Labor Day week-end. We drove up after work on Friday and spent time shopping, eating out and seeing our old friends. One day we drove out to see Powell’s Farm……a beautiful area with plantings of flowers, trees and shrubs. The admission fee went to the care and expansion of the grounds and it was worth every penny. We met Becky’s friend from high-school, DiDi and her family, for pizza at our favorite spot in Shawnee. Always a “must” of the trip.

On a Saturday in September, the 17th, Becky and I were walking and a little gray kitten came charging out of the weeds along the roadside. He was lost, hungry and desperate…..he kept running to keep up with us and got all tangled up in my feet. The neighbor who lives down the hill behind us had a very large dog who was gentle as a lamb, and quite often, walked with us. The kitten wasn’t afraid of the dog at all and Boots, the dog, kept trying to pick the cat up to bring it along. Finally we stopped and Boots gave me a look I’ll never forget…..it plainly said, “Aren’t you going to do something for this poor little kitty?”

It got the best of me and I knew the kitten would be dead by the time we made our return trip. The road we walked on had lots of cars and they all drove too fast on the back road. The kitten had no idea of what a car was and I couldn’t leave it to a fate like that. I picked it up, rubbed noses with it and said, “From now on, I’m your mama.” The little guy seemed to understand and we turned around and came home. Bear and I washed it and cleaned it up…..picked a bunch of fleas off it and gave it some food. On Monday we took him to the Vet for a physical and got his shots and all that. Tuffy is still “my boy” and he is 11-years old now. He’s been a wonderful pet. I seem to be the champion of lost kitty’s…..and so September ended and the rains began again. “Fall” would soon find her way to us…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


June 6th this year was the Fiftieth Anniversary of D-Day. We taped the ceremonies to watch later when we could see them together. There were a lot of old stories of the war by the men who fought it……on both sides. They were now old themselves and it was interesting to listen to their tales. Many of whom had not talked about it before, even to their families. It’s the way it was back then. The guys came home, dug in and helped straighten the country out here on the home front. Many courageous men were lost and their buddies never forgot them………

A few days later we went back to Springfield for Becky and me to have our yearly physical checkups. We had a nice lunch, a little shopping and came home. Later that evening when we had the news on we were surprised by the murder of O.J. Simpson’s wife and male friend. There seemed to be some indication that he may have had something to do with it. It was the hot topic of news. A short time later he was discovered and being followed by the LAPD after they caught up with his whereabouts. It was bizarre to watch as waving people were on the overpasses of the freeway, cheering him on. A parade of six police cars were following him and talking back and forth on their cell phones. He had threatened to take his own life with a weopen he had with him. The trail ended at his home where he was talked into putting his gun down and exiting the vehicle. He was taken into custody at that point.

Father’s Day came on our wedding anniversary this year and I fixed a nice dinner after church. The kids all called to wish Bear a happy Father’s Day and we had a nice visit with them. We had some severe weather and lots of rain early in the month but now it was beginning to dry up. Our temps pushed us into the fourth hottest June on record with the 90* temperatures. The O.J.Simpson trial is everywhere on TV and the topic of conversation. It looked like it was going to be a long trial……..it turned out I was right…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, July 01, 2005


As Becky mentioned in her blog this morning we had a turbulent night-fall. The wind tossed the trees like tumble-weeds as they gyrated against an angry sky and torrents of rain. There had been warnings all late afternoon about severe weather and it’s been so dry I kept thinking….. “Bring it on…whatever it takes to get some rain.” Well, I got my wish. After impressive thunder and lightening we got our rain. It pelted against the house in gusts as our cats took safe positions.

Tuffy dove under the chair Morris was sleeping on and Sassy crawled behind me on the couch. In old age, Morris no longer hears thunder, wind or driving rain and sleeps like a baby through storms. Morris had been left under Becky’s porch over 16-years ago when he was about 6-weeks old. His mother deposited him during a similar storm and left. Becky and Jennifer were alerted to his whereabouts the next day when they heard his cries…….he was traumatized from that bad experience until deafness took away his fears……….

The girls brought him here for adoption and we took him in. It was July 1, 1989.…the day of our 40th High School Class Reunion. Bear and I went to the reunion at Cabool later that day when Mr. Rocky showed up for the first reunion since graduation. We had not seen each other since I left Cabool in 1954, the year we moved to Kansas City. No one heard of him or from him in all those years nor knew if he was dead or alive. You never forget your Senior Prom date and Rocky had always been special to me. After that we saw him every few years…….but all that is a story for a different time. Morris is always a “marker” for the day that Rocky was “found” as well………..

Fortunately the storm didn’t produce the huge hail other places had experienced. A picture of teacup sized hail was shown on the local weather report and there was no disputing the size. I cannot imagine the damage ensued from such an onslaught. We were relieved to know Napoleon came through the storm safely. I would imagine he was frightened out of his wits but apparently nature kicked in and he took suitable cover. He is such an amusing fellow…..he’s very curious and inspects everything in his path. If Becky, Rocky or I am in the yard he comes to see what we’re doing and isn’t afraid of us at all. I’m getting so attached to the little guy that I’m hoping he will remain safe and happy until we can find suitable lodging for him.

I have heard from George that he is coming for the holiday weekend so that alters my time for today. I wish each of you a very safe and happy Fourth of July as we celebrate freedom and liberty. So many have died….good, decent and honorable men who have provided the safety and life that we know. Take time to give thanks for them and their ultimate sacrifice…..make sure you never take that for granted.

I will be back after the holiday to resume with June 1994.……

Until then,
Essentially Esther